Monthly Archives: December 2011

On the 4th day of Christmas…

Thank you to Ivan for today’s inspiration, the phrase “No one believed in Santa any more, so why bother with Christmas?” For the record, I am not trying to influence anyone’s views of Christmas or where its magic lies, I’m just messing about with everyone’s inspirational phrases. This time I’m particularly interested to hear what you think about the ending – does the last paragraph add anything or take away from the previous paragraph?
For your amusement, while I was researching this, I came across this page, which made me laugh out loud:
If you enjoy this, please consider leaving a suggestion for one of the later days of Christmas in the comments, either here, or on the original “12 Days of Christmas” post from last week. Thanks!
The Magic Of Christmas
“He’s not actually magic, you know, it’s just a dude in a red suit.”
Donna sighed. Her sisters’ doubt saddened her. “If even we don’t believe in him, why bother with Christmas at all?”
Dasher and Blitzen laughed. “It’s money!” Blitzen said, “Money pays the bills, puts food on the table. Without Christmas, how would we get our carrots?”
Donna turned away. She walked to the edge of the wood and watched a dog sled rushing by, the couple on board gazing intently at each other and smiling. It looked like Christmas was still magical for them. She wondered where they were going.
Cupid appeared through the trees to her left and whistled to her. “You’re pensive, sister. Care to join me for a nip of brandy? It is Christmas, after all!”
“Is that what Christmas is about? Alcohol?”
“No, but it’s a start. Got to do something to drown out the children’s squeals!”
“But they’re happy squeals,” said Donna.
“Happy. But loud.”
Donna blinked away a tear and raced out of the forest, away from the rest of the reindeer. She couldn’t face their cynicism any longer – she believed there was magic in Christmas somewhere and she wanted to find it. She raced along the sled-tracks, following the couple – the only hint of magic she had seen tonight. The tracks led to a tiny white church, glowing from inside with a warm light in the dark winter’s night.
Donna crept up the steps towards the cracked-open door. The scent wafting out was sweet and bitter at the same time, the air thick, bright and warm. Suddenly, the step creaked under her hoof. She paused and held her breath. She could hear singing inside, a song about choirs of angels; then a hand touched her flank and she turned to see a small angel with a wonky halo beside her.
“Hello,” said the angel, “I’m Jocelyn. Come in, Mary and Joseph have just arrived at the stable.”
Donna followed the girl down the aisle towards the altar, which was glowing with candles lit all around. People turned and stared at her, but she felt safe and loved. When they reached the front of the church, she looked up and saw a painting of Santa Claus, his long white beard flowing over white robes not red ones, but it was the man himself, of that she was certain. And here were more than a hundred people standing together and singing to him. He was the father of their Christmas, and it was magical.
When the singing finished, children came forward and petted her. She felt their hands on her flanks and saw the magic in their eyes. Here, at last, was the magic of Christmas.


Filed under Writing

On the 3rd Day of Christmas…

Thank you to John for today’s inspiration, the phrase “Is Christmas a time for families or family arguments?” I’m not sure if this answers your question or not!
If you enjoy this, please consider leaving a suggestion for one of the later days of Christmas in the comments, either here, or on the original “12 Days of Christmas” post from last week. Thanks!
Sally was screaming. I walked into the living room just in time to see her aim a cracker at Kevin’s head. It would have been funny if her face weren’t so murderous.
“She’s barely older than our daughter!” she yelled.
There was no chance of their being disturbed by my entrance, but I hovered in the doorway anyway, not sure whether to beat a retreat into the kitchen or stay and watch. There was something curiously fascinating about watching a marriage disintegrate, even on Christmas Day.
“It was a mistake,” Kevin replied, his usual calm demeanour cracking as he shielded himself from another swing. “I’m sorry. Can we just try to get things ready for when the girls arrive? No point ruining their Christmas too.”
“Oh, sure,” Sally had dropped the cracker now and was reaching towards a dinner plate. Her voice crackled with rage. I finally broke off my attention and stepped backwards, pulling the door closed behind me.
“Dinner’s ready,” said Mum when I reached the kitchen. “Can you call everyone through?”
“I think we need to give them a minute,” I indicated the living room door. “It’s about to get deadly!”
“They can catch the repeat,” Mum replied; she wasn’t having Christmas dinner delayed just for the sake of my brother and his wife’s Coronation Street obsession. “Owen! Turn off that television and come on in to dinner.”


Filed under Writing

On The Second Day Of Christmas…

Thank you to Jackie for today’s inspiration, the phrase “Oh no, another day with the relatives.” I hope this fits with what you imagined!

If you enjoy this, please consider leaving a suggestion for one of the later days of Christmas in the comments, either here, or on the original “12 Days of Christmas” post from last week. Thanks!

At Night At Uncle’s Inn

My uncle pushes the door closed and comes back to his seat in front of the fire. “More scroungers,” he scowls. “She was even pulling the pillow up the dress trick, like I’ve never seen that one before. No more pregnant than I am.” He picks up his tankard and toasts it towards my Grandmother, who hasn’t moved from her chair since lunchtime, so that I am wondering if she might perhaps have died.

“You didn’t turn them away?” says my aunt, “We’ve two empty rooms upstairs.”

“Those are for paying customers. Nobody who pulls that trick is going to pay their bill tomorrow. We still might catch a couple of late night tradesmen.”

My aunt pushes back her chair and stomps out of the front door. I hate coming here; they fight constantly, my Grandmother smells of rotten food and sharing a bed with my cousins makes my skin itch next day. But Mum insists that spending time with our relatives is good for my spirit. She and Dad have gone to bed already, but I need to stay up as long as Eugene does or he’ll tease me about it tomorrow.


“There. I’ve put them in the stable,” she crows when she comes back a few minutes later. “They’ll pay half rate. It’s better than nothing.” She picks up a piece of mutton and puts it to her mouth, then stops and turns to her husband, taking the tankard from his hand in one swift move. “Oh, and you’d better lay off the beer, protect our baby. I’d be surprised if she didn’t pop tonight. Pillow indeed!”

1 Comment

Filed under Writing

On The First Day Of Christmas…

Thank you to Stacey (you can read her blog at for today’s inspiration, the following festive picture of Tux, the Linux penguin. If Linux in-knowledge is not your bag, join me on Wikipedia to figure it all out here ( but otherwise I hope the story makes sense to everyone!

If you enjoy this, please consider leaving a suggestion for one fo the later days of Christmas in the comments, either here, or on the original “12 Days of Christmas” post from last week. Thanks!

“Happy Holidays!” slurred Tux, waving a flipper at Gown when she opened the door.

The pink female penguin eyed him suspiciously and Tux looked down quickly. He had wiped Trixi’s lipstick from his beak before he visited Tuxette, and he knew he had brushed away the crumbs of fish from his second meal of the day at her igloo. What could Gown possibly have seen?

“You’ve been drinking.”

“Just a nip to keep me warm on the journey. I’m sorry I’m so late … there was a contra ice flow. On Christmas Day. Can you believe it?”

“Sure,” she said, not sounding it. “And who is that?”

He turned to see where she was pointing: at a small gaggle of chicks led by the unmistakable purple and white figure of Penny.

“Errr … My sister?”

Leave a comment

Filed under Writing

Merry Christmas, Everyone

It’s December 23rd, so this will be my last post before the Big Day, which is why I want to start by saying thank you for stopping by my blog, keeping my stats page looking cheery and especially for your comments over the last few months. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas, whether you celebrate it as a festival or just enjoy it as a quiet Sunday, and I look forward to seeign you here again soon.

I’m still looking for more ideas for my 12 Days Of Christmas posts, so please stop by here: and leave me your suggestions. I’d love to have all twelve from readers’ comments (if you have multiple ideas, that’s cool too) but if not I’ve got a few thoughts up my sleeve!

Friday Fiction fans, I’m afraid we’re taking a break this week (what can I do? Madison has spoken!) but we’ll be back on the case next Friday, so drop by then!

And as a final note, twelve words for you:

Christmas. Unto us a child is born. And a commercial extravaganza too.


Have a good one!


Filed under Writing

12 Days of Christmas (or Seeking Inspiration)

As is traditional, I’ll be spending most of the twelve days of Christmas dashing around the UK visiting various family and friends. I probably won’t have internet access for some of it, and I certainly won’t have a lot of time for writing. But I don’t want to stop exercise my creative muscles, so I’ll have my notebook with me and I’d love to pen a short piece, perhaps 100 words, every one of those twelve days.

To do that, I need your help! If you follow this blog, hopefully that means you like reading what I write – imagine if you could be a part of that! I’m looking for 12 pieces of inspiration – a link to a photo on your tumblr / flickr page, or simply one you’ve found online; a first line, a character or a title, or a writing exercise like the “page of a dictionary” one I did the other day. Anything at all – it can be Christmas related or not, and about absolutely anything you like. If I get twelve ideas, I’ll write one every day from 25th December to 6th Jan and post as often as I get Wifi, so check back or subscribe to see the fruits of your labours!

In the meantime, a practice run, based on a game we played at my writers’ group Christmas Party last week (yup, we sure know how to have fun!). A twelve word story (including the title).

Christmas dinner. Cranberry, stuffing, potatoes, gravy. And Pedro, yesterday’s pet. Gobble gobble.


Filed under Writing

Friday Fiction #6

AS ever, thanks to Madison Woods for the inspiration. Here’s the latest Friday Fiction piece. Comments, as ever, very welcome and if you enjoy writing, nip over to Madison’s blog for inspiration and join in this week or in the future.

“This is it!” laughed Eloise, pointing to a spindly specimen thrown down in a corner. She yelled over the sounds the orphanage choir trilling Silent Night.

Dad turned and laughed with her, catching the irony. But her Mum was standing quietly in front of the choir, apparently lost in the music, and seemed not to hear.

Eloise and her father picked out a prime bushy tree and wheeled it towards the netting station, but Mum was there already, the sparse tree wrapped and tucked under her arm.

She smiled. “It’s Christmas. The season of goodwill to all. Even among trees.”


Filed under Friday Fiction, Writing

The Downside

I love writing. I love it enough that I would do it all day every day if I could. Enough that I don’t stop just because it’s a weekend. I even love editing, although less so, which is why I’m procrastinating more at the moment.

But there is a downside to writing, and in particular to the kind of intensive writing that takes place in November. As I speak to other WriMos this month, I find more and more of us refusing to type or whinging about lost wrist supports and ineffectual painkillers. Repetitive strain injury and various lesser forms of wrist pain strike the writer dumb.

So for my fellow sufferers who read this, I recommend the excellent advice of Joy Haughton, osteopath extraordinaire (and also my best friend, but she really is good and specialises in RSI) here: Unless you are fortunate enough to live in Cambridge, UK, she won’t be able to treat you personally, but the advice on her blog it still very useful.

Otherwise, here’s a few hints that I find help.

1. Wrist support. They are expensive but last pretty much forever. I can’t wear it to type, but I find if I wear it the rest of the time, it helps when I am typing.

2. Regular breaks. Download workrave ( to force you to take breaks, then make sure it’s turned on. And obey it. You can set the timings to ones which work for you, even really short breaks will help.

3. Massage your arms. For example when watching tv or waiting for the bus. Dig your opposite thumb into the muscle between wrist and elbow and ease it looser. An hour and a half of this is like a miracle cure (and hurts like hell at the time!), but even a couple of minutes helps.

4. Stretch. Again, at the bus stop, watching TV, first thing in the morning or last thing at night. A marathon runner wouldn’t finish a month of races and not stretch out, so don’t let December go by without easing the tension out of those arms. Anything that feels like a stretch is helping so experiment with what works for you. Stretching all over will help with posture and relaxation, but make sure you focus on fingers, arms and shoulders.

Right, better hit publish, workrave is flashing at me angrily.


Filed under Writing

Friday Fiction #5

This week's inspiration from

“Open it!” said Ewan.

I pulled the lid off my brother’s lunchbox and stared down at the three pieces of meat inside. They looked like barbequed chicken, but in strange curved shapes. “You stole their dinner.”

“Only a tiny bit of their dinner, but… look, it’s proof.”

“Of what? Ewan, you could have stolen these from nextdoor. You didn’t go to a magical world.”

“I did,” he picked up one of the pieces of meat. It was strangely claw-like. Tough and red.

Then I started laughing, because he was brandishing it and saying proudly, “This. Is from a dragon’s tail.”


Filed under Friday Fiction, Writing


In my post, More Writing Games, here:, I described an exercise in writing from Anthony Burgess. Since description is my weak spot, I thought I’d go with the original version and describe a room. It turned into a bit of a story itself, but I hope you like it – comments are appreciated as always (good and especially bad ones). I was using page 1111 of my dictionary, as requested, and word 13 in particular. See if you can spot the page. Here we go…

The hotel room was dark and smelt faintly of prophylactics. I felt my stomach turn at the image that conjured up. The curtains were heavy blue velvet, I pulled them back to let some light into the room, but that just revealed the true squalor within. Mould was propagating wildly in one corner where the wall had a pronounced yaw inwards, and the ceiling was stained from water damage.

The decorations were strange, a propfan jutted out of the wall above the bed, as if the remains of a war time crash that noone had bothered to remove. The quiet design of the propeller the ultimate irony, since in the last few minutes the fan on the ceiling had already demonstrated a propensity to squeak, once in every slow, useless cycle.

“Your guest is joining you later, is he?” prompted the bellboy, hanging on the pronoun to emphasise his views on the prospect of two men sharing a double room. Clearly not a proponent of the Rainbow propaganda promulgated by the hotel, he virtually had “Prejudice” tattooed across his knuckles. He propped the door open and wheeled in our cases. I thought about withholding the bill I’d palmed earlier, but it seemed better to propitiate him, otherwise he’d only chalk it up to the colour of my skin and the propensity of black men to tip badly.

I pushed the bill into his hand and closed the door behind him. The room stank, the service stank. I was about ready to leave, but I couldn’t. There were no other hotels in town, no other rooms to be had for any money, and the funeral was starting in an hour. I propelled my brother’s case away from the door and sat down heavily on the bed.


Filed under Writing